Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren, in the mold of successful Wisconsin forwards, didn't mind waiting their turn.
Neither did Michigan's Jordan Morgan or Purdue's Anthony Johnson or Penn State's Jon Graham.
Taking the optional redshirt - which means a player voluntarily sitting out the entire season and garnering a fifth or extra year of eligibility - is far more prominent in Division-I football than men's basketball.
"It's not common with the star players. The non-star players don't want to redshirt - they think it's an insult," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who has six redshirts on his roster for various reasons. "If he's good enough to play, we're playing him."
Wisconsin starts Evans and Berggren, each among the Badgers' top three scorers and rebounders, after both players willingly sat out all of 2008-09.
That was the year following the five-year career of center Brian Butch, a high-profile Bo Ryan recruit who took the redshirt in 2003 in order to season.
"We've had players who have redshirted who a lot of other people never even thought of offering a scholarship to," Ryan said. "How many schools have ever redshirted a McDonald's All-American? Well, Brian Butch was not physically ready to compete at a high level as he would have been by his fifth year."
After spending time on the scout team his freshman year in Ann Arbor, Morgan started all 35 games and won Michigan's Rudy Tomjanovich Most Improved Player Award in 2010-11.
"The redshirt thing is not for everybody, but for certain young men and women, I'm sure it is absolutely the best way to their success," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "Jordan was 17 when he got here, and he's trying to play against 21-, 22-year-old men."
Johnson was a top-100 recruit for coach Matt Painter, but needed time to learn Purdue's system, in which he's averaging 5.3 points his freshman year. Meanwhile at Penn State, Graham packed on 20 pounds of muscle last year and was named "Unsung Hero" for his work ethic, preparing himself to lead the Nittany Lions in blocked shots.
"With only 13 scholarships and five people can be on the court at one time, you almost have a backup for everybody," Painter said. "If you're not playing a guy and you like him, and the only reason he's not playing is too many guys in front of him, why not redshirt?"
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery redshirted swingman Darius Stokes last year, but overall the Hawkeyes have had enough playing opportunities for freshmen in recent years.
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"Typically I have not been a big redshirt guy. I've done it periodically, but some coaches are big believers," McCaffery said. "If you're on my team, I want you ready to play. In certain cases, physically, it makes a lot of sense."
Although it's a different situation, many players can use a medical hardship exemption so long as the season-ending injury occurs in the first half of the season and the player hasn't appeared in more than 20 percent of his team's scheduled games. Such was the case for Purdue forward Robbie Hummel and Iowa center Devon Archie.
According to NCAA rules, the moment a player checks into a regular-season or postseason game, he loses the option to redshirt. Exhibitions don't count.
"Sometimes that freshman year goes by and they hardly ever played and they wished they would have had a fifth year," Ryan said. "It's definitely paid off."
NEWS AND NOTES
* Michigan State forward Draymond Green was named Big Ten player of the week for the third time in the past month, while Michigan freshman Trey Burke picked up his fifth weekly rookie honor.
* Iowa announced Monday it is allowing all university students into Thursday's game against No. 15 Wisconsin for free with a student ID card, with several giveaways planned.